Florida Domestic Violence Charges and Laws
Domestic violence is a serious crime that comes with strict consequences in the state of Florida. In some cases, the allegations are the result of a misunderstanding, exaggerated claims, or outright false statements. What starts out as a disagreement can quickly turn into a situation that affects an accused person for the rest of his or her life.
If you are facing charges of domestic violence in Florida, contact Musca Law today. Our lawyers understand the ways domestic violence convictions can change people’s lives, and we have extensive experience successfully defending these cases. Call our office to speak to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney and to learn how we can help you protect your rights.
Domestic Violence Charges in Florida
In most domestic violence cases in Florida, the underlying charges are for battery. A person with no previous criminal history who is charged with domestic violence battery will likely face first-degree misdemeanor charges. A conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida can result in jail time of up to one year and a fine of $500.
By contrast, if a person has a prior conviction for battery, felony battery, or aggravated battery and is charged with domestic violence battery in Florida, the person could face third-degree felony charges. A third-degree felony is punishable under Florida law by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Additionally, a person convicted of domestic violence battery will typically be ordered to attend a counseling course called the Batterer Intervention Program. The judge overseeing the case might also order that the defendant have no contact with the victim.
Standard Bond for Domestic Violence in Florida
The bond ordered in a domestic violence case will depend on the circumstances of the charges and the defendant’s criminal history. In many cases involving first-time offenses, the bond will be set at $500, and it can be reduced to a release on the defendant’s own recognizance (ROR). ROR will not generally be available for defendants with prior convictions. If a person has multiple prior convictions, the judge overseeing the case might set a high bond.
At the outset of a domestic violence battery case in Florida, the judge will also order that the defendant have no contact with the victim. This order will be lifted if the charges are dropped or resolved but otherwise stands for the duration of the case. Your defense lawyer can work to achieve a modification to the no-contact order, as these are often quite burdensome to couples who have minor children or shared finances.
Florida’s Batterer Intervention Program and the Potential Pitfalls Plea Deals
Many domestic violence cases end with defendants taking plea deals offered by the prosecutors. Some of these deals are better than others, and many of them will continue to affect the defendants for the rest of their lives.
When you hear that domestic violence charges can potentially result in jail time, you might be tempted to take a plea deal. Such an agreement can sound good on paper, cutting out a grueling trial and saving costs in exchange for probation and a counseling program. However, it is important to understand what is involved in the program, what happens if you cannot complete the program, and what a domestic violence plea can mean for your future.
Particularly in cases involving first-time domestic violence offenders, the state will often offer completion of counseling and one year of probation in exchange for a guilty plea. What defendants often do not know is that jail time is rare for first offenders as it is, and the counseling program offered, the Batterer Intervention Program, is at least 26 weeks long. That is six months of weekly counseling sessions on top of an initial assessment and orientation.
Each weekly session in the Batterer Intervention Program is around 90 minutes long and costs $30. Combined with an enrollment fee paid in the beginning of the program and the costs of transportation to each session, participants might spend close to $1,000 completing the program. If at any time the participant cannot pay the fee or attend one of the sessions, he or she could face arrest and possible jail time.
In addition, a guilty plea for domestic violence can never be sealed or expunged and will show up on all basic background checks. People who enter into these plea deals can find themselves struggling to secure employment and housing years after completing the terms of their sentence. Pleading guilty to domestic violence charges in Florida also means you can never own a firearm.
While a plea deal might seem tempting, it often does not result in the best outcome for people charged with domestic violence. Allow our office to review the details of the charges against you and help you understand all of the options available to you.
Defending a Florida Domestic Violence Case
In a domestic violence case, the ideal result a dismissal of the charges. In many of these cases, the victims want the charges to be dropped and can express their desire for this result in a statement. Such a statement serves as a compelling reason for the state to dismiss the charges. It is extremely important that any contact with the victim take place through counsel. You should never contact the victim yourself about dropping the charges. As the accused, any contact you personally have with the victim could be construed as witness tampering.
The state might also dismiss the charges after some discovery has taken place and the defendant has voluntarily attended counseling. If the charges are not dropped, your lawyer will build a defense that prepares your case for trial or for the resolution in your best interests.
Contact Musca Law Today for a Free Case Review!
If you have been charged with domestic violence battery in Florida, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law today. Our firm offers case reviews at no cost to you. Call us now at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a confidential consultation.